When And How Should I Wear A Face Covering?

When should people wear face coverings?

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport, and in shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices, indoor transport hubs, museums, galleries, cinemas, places of worship, and public libraries.

People are also strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in any other enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet.

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • children under 11
  • because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • to communicate with someone who relies on lip reading
  • to avoid harm or injury; to identify yourself
  • to eat or drink if necessary

You can carry something that says you do not have to wear a face covering for medical reasons. This is a personal choice, and is not necessary in law – you should not routinely be required to produce any written evidence to justify the fact you are not wearing a face covering.

Relevant guidance on face coverings is available here


Should people wear face coverings on public transport?

It is the law that you must wear a face covering when travelling in England on a:

  • bus or coach
  • train or tram
  • ferry or hovercraft or other vessel
  • aircraft
  • cable car
  • in an enclosed transport hub, such as a train or bus station

If you do not wear a face covering you will be breaking the law and could be fined £100, or £50 if you pay the fine within 14 days. As announced, we will bring forward changes to mean that for repeat offenders these fines would double at each offence up to a maximum value of £3,200.

Please be aware that some people are exempt, and do not have to wear a face covering on public transport, including for health, age or equality reasons, as listed above.

The government have published guidance for those making face coverings at home, to help illustrate the process.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers; these should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace such as health and care workers and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.


Should school children and teachers wear face coverings?

Schools and colleges have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they believe that it is right in their particular circumstances. In areas where local restrictions apply, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils (Years 7 and above) when moving around, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.


Will a face covering stop me getting COVID-19?

The evidence suggests that face coverings do not protect you, but it may help protect others if you have the virus and are not showing no symptoms. They can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease. 

That is why it is important to wear a face covering.

To protect yourself, you should also continue to follow guidance on meeting safely with others and wash your hands regularly.


How do I wear a face covering?

It is important to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting your face covering on and taking it off. You should not touch your face covering while putting on or wearing it to avoid spreading the virus from your hand to your face covering.  You should make sure that the face covering covers both your nose and mouth. To take off your face covering take it off from behind your ears, avoid touching the front of the covering. 

Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing or washing your hands. 


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